Fear

We are Better Together

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Over the past few years, we’ve been able to accomplish great things in our community as we work together… but there’s more. God has world-changing work for us to accomplish, but the only way to do it is to work together – not just in partnership, but in deep relationships.

1. Read

1 Corinthians 12:12 [NLT] “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.”

Your body is only healthy and strong when all your systems and organs are interconnected and working together. It’s the same way for the body of Christ – the Church. God needs a stronger-than-ever representation in our community, and that means we need to be more connected and united than ever.

  • What are a few organs your body could live without? How would losing them affect your health and strength? What are some activities you’d be unable to do after losing them?

  • Just being at a church service doesn’t make someone connected to the body. What does it look like to be disconnected? (Give some examples!) What does it look like, then, to be connected?

2. Challenge

1 Corinthians 12:27 [ESV] “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”

Flex your biceps. Every time you lift a gallon of milk or bring your toothbrush to your mouth, that action is accomplished by about 250,000 individual muscle fibers. On its own, a muscle fiber could do next to nothing, but together, the bicep muscle group can do some impressive stuff. Your role in God’s Church is vital – but it can only be fully realized when you work in harmony with others.

  • What are some functions or roles that you feel like the Holy Spirit has assigned to you?

  • What are some ways that being connected relationally could help you to do God’s work better (be specific!)? How might working with others allow you to have a greater impact than what you could do by yourself?

3. Prayer Focus

Talk to God for a few minutes about your role in His body. Ask Him to empower you to be stronger as an individual, to work in harmony with other Christians, and to grow in relationships with others, so that the whole body benefits.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Life is a Highway: Detour

1. Power Verse

John 16:33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

What’s up: “Trust In God!  Don’t Forget, He Has Never Failed You Yet!”

This week, we conclude our series called, “Life Is A Highway”.  In this series, we learned that life is a lot like a highway.

2. Activity

On a sheet of paper, draw two dots with several inches of space between them, and label the dots Home and Store.  Ask your kids the following questions:

  • Can you draw the best way to get from Home to the Store?
  • Why is that the best way? (it’s the shortest)
  • Is the shortest way the only way?
  • Is the shortest way always the best way?  
  • What are some reasons to take a different route? 
  • Can you draw some other ways to get from Home to the Store? (help them draw some curvy lines that connect the two dots)

Sometimes we have a goal or a dream we want to accomplish in life, and the way to achieve it seems pretty obvious.  We work hard and take all the steps needed to accomplish the goal, but sometimes things happen that cause us to detour from our goal. 

3. Discussion

  • What are some things that might force us to take a detour?
  • How do we feel when we have to take a detour?
  • Does a detour mean that we’ll never accomplish the goal?

Detours in life are inevitable, but that doesn’t mean God has abandoned us.  Trusting God may seem hard, but it’s the only way to ultimately achieve our goals.  God isn’t surprised by detours! 

4. Prayer Focus

Thank God for leading you on life’s highway.  Ask Him to help you through times when you feel like you’re not accomplishing your goal.

Overcoming Anxiety & Fear- Part 3

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Sometimes, following God’s path leads you right through some fear-inducing situations. Whether the danger is physical, financial, emotional or anything else, fear can paralyze you, keeping you from doing what God commands. If you want to follow Jesus effectively, you need courage! 

1. Read

Joshua 1:9 [NLT]  “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua had very real fears in multiple areas – fear of injury, fear of failure, and fear of rejection. God’s command was to rise up and step forward, right into the danger, because He was with Joshua every step of the way.
  •  What’s an example of something in day to day life that you’ve shied away from because it was intimidating? 
  • What’s something God wants you to say, do, or stop, which intimidates you? (It can be a one-time thing, or a recurring way of life.) Get specific, what are the fears attached to that thing? Do those fears change God’s expectation for you?

2. Challenge

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 [NLT]  “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”
Sometimes, courage needs a good dose of endurance – not every scary season is a short one. With God’s help, though, you can hang on, and accomplish great things for Him.
  •  Think back on a time in your life where it was hard to hang on spiritually. How long did it last? What most helped you to hang on? 
  •  What were some good things that came out of it? 
  •  Courage is contagious. What are some ways you could share your story of having courage and hanging on through the fear? Who in your life might benefit from your testimony?

3. Prayer Focus

Spend time in prayer calling out specific times when God was with you, whether you realized it or not at the time. Thank Him for each one, and reaffirm your trust that wherever He leads you next, and whatever He asks you to do, He will be with you.

Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Life is a Highway: Detour

1. Power Verse

John 16:33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
What’s up: “Trust In God!  Don’t Forget, He Has Never Failed You Yet!” This week, we conclude our series called, “Life Is A Highway”.  In this series, we learned that life is a lot like a highway.

2. Activity

On a sheet of paper, draw two dots with several inches of space between them, and label the dots Home and Store.  Ask your kids the following questions:
  • Can you draw the best way to get from Home to the Store?
  • Why is that the best way? (it’s the shortest)
  • Is the shortest way the only way?
  • Is the shortest way always the best way?  
  • What are some reasons to take a different route? 
  • Can you draw some other ways to get from Home to the Store? (help them draw some curvy lines that connect the two dots)
Sometimes we have a goal or a dream we want to accomplish in life, and the way to achieve it seems pretty obvious.  We work hard and take all the steps needed to accomplish the goal, but sometimes things happen that cause us to detour from our goal. 

3. Discussion

  • What are some things that might force us to take a detour?
  • How do we feel when we have to take a detour?
  • Does a detour mean that we’ll never accomplish the goal?
Detours in life are inevitable, but that doesn’t mean God has abandoned us.  Trusting God may seem hard, but it’s the only way to ultimately achieve our goals.  God isn’t surprised by detours! 

4. Prayer Focus

Thank God for leading you on life’s highway.  Ask Him to help you through times when you feel like you’re not accomplishing your goal.

Empowered by the Spirit- Part 4

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The Holy Spirit has special abilities He gives to us, which help us to be better witnesses in our world. Two of those abilities, miracles and prophecy, are often misunderstood. The truth is, they’re vital, real-world practical functions of God’s work in our lives today.

1 Corinthians 12:10a [NLT] “He gives one person the power to perform miracles…”

When people think of “performing miracles,” they often imagine parting the Red Sea or calling down fire from heaven. The truth is, a “miracle” is any time God’s power intervenes to change how a situation plays out. Through the Holy Spirit’s enablement, God wants to use us to pray situation-changing prayers that address real needs in the world around us.

Q . What is the most memorable or spectacular miracle you remember from the Bible?

Q . What’s a need that you’ve encountered where you’ve asked God to get involved and change something?

Q . What are the differences between those 2 examples? What are the similarities?

2. Challenge

1 Corinthians 12:10 [NLT] “He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy.”

We often think of “prophecy” as telling the future, but this spiritual ability is much broader than that. A “prophet” is anyone who speaks God’s words under His inspiration.

Q . Has anyone ever come to you with a message they felt like God asked them to share? Was it relevant to your life at the time?

Q . What are some types of things God may want to say to people around you? How often is there a need in your world for the Spiritual ability to prophesy?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for answering prayers with His power, and for speaking to you through various sources. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to notice and obey when He prompts you to function in a special ability.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

No Fear

1. Power Verse

Isaiah 41:10 “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you…”

What’s Up: “I Don’t Have To Be Afraid, I’ll Put My Trust In God!”

With God on our side, we should never be afraid! Kids have a lot of things that they may fear. It’s important at an early age, we help them learn that with God, there is nothing that is too big for us to face. With Him by our side, we can face anything!

2. Read

Ask your children to list some of the things they are scared or afraid of together.

Q.  What do you think Jesus says about fear? Jesus has a lot to say about fear, and we are actually talking about that today! We are going to learn from a familiar story in the Bible of how Jesus reacts to our fears.

Matthew 8:23-27 “Jesus got into a boat. His disciples followed him. Suddenly a terrible storm came up on the lake. The waves crashed over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up. They said, “Lord! Save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “Your faith is so small! Why are you so afraid?” Then Jesus got up and ordered the winds and the waves to stop. It became completely calm. The disciples were amazed. They asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

3. Discussion

Q. What was Jesus’ response to the storm?

Q. Why do you think the storm didn’t scare Jesus?

Just like the storm didn’t scare or intimidate Jesus, our fears and problems don’t scare Him either. Jesus is never afraid. He can help us not be scared, too! We just have to trust Him!

Take time working with each of your children coming up with a plan of how they can face their fear they mentioned earlier in our devotion. 

Q. What scriptures could they quote that would help them? What could they pray to help calm them? 

4. Prayer Focus

Pray together after you have finished writing or drawing out your plan.

Hearing God’s Voice

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Before Jesus came, God only spoke to a few select people, and only in special ways and on special occasions. Many Christians live like God still operates this way, but Jesus promised that when He sent the Holy Spirit, we would be able to hear from God anytime, anywhere.

2. Bible Verse

Elijah only heard from God in certain instances.

1 Kings 18:1 [ESV] “After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah…”

1 Kings 19:9 [ESV] “There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” 

1 Kings 21:28 [ESV]  “And the word of the Lord came to Elijah…”

 

God spoke to others in that era – people like Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and even John the Baptist. They were known as “prophets” – people who spoke on God’s behalf.

3. Discussion

Jesus told us His Word would not only be available to us – it would live in us.

John 15:7 [ESV]  “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” 

John 14:16–17 [ESV] “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

Q: If you can hear directly from God, does that make it less or more important to know what He said in the Bible? Why?

Q: In what ways has the Holy Spirit spoken into your life? Do you think He wants to say more?

Q: If the Holy Spirit is speaking all the time, should we expect the gifts of the Spirit to operate only on special occasions, or more day-to-day?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for speaking to you through the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to work in your life to impact others as He reaches out to them through you.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

 Romans 8:31  …If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”

“If I Take A Risk, God Will Bring The Victory!”

This week we continued our series, “Never Too Young.”  In this week’s lesson, the children learned about the importance of “Taking A Risk” in their lives.  It is important that our kids know that they can tackle any “giant” that may stand before them with God’s help!

2. Discussion

Q. What giant did you learn about this week?  (Goliath)

Q. Who defeated the giant?  (David)

Q. How did David defeat the giant?  Do you think David was scared or worried when he stood before the giant?

It’s natural to be scared when we stand before a “giant” in our own lives.  David may have been scared too!  But, David didn’t worry because he knew God was with Him and God would help him defeat the giant.

Q. What “giant” can you think of that you are facing now in your own life?  (Help your child identify problems that seem bigger than they are.)

Q. What are some things you can do to help defeat your giant?

Q. What would God want to tell you about your giant?

3. Activity 

God wants us to know that with His help we can defeat our giants and do great things for Him!  We have been talking the last few weeks about how you are “Never Too Young” to do things for God.  With God’s help, you can do anything!  

Be willing to take a risk for God!

Read This Scripture:

Romans 8:31 “…If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”  

Spend some time helping your child memorize this scripture for the next time they face a giant in their lives.

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that your child will be strong and with God’s help can stand up against their giant!  Pray that they will be willing to take a risk in order to do BIG things for God!

Who’s Report Will You Believe?

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I’m not sure how many of you frequent Facebook but I would guess that many of you do.  One of the things that most often frustrates me about the postings there are the ones that sound something like…. “Ten reasons why youth are leaving your church”, or “Why everybody hates church music,” or “64 reasons American Churches are Dying.”  I just don’t get it!  First, what makes the people who write these things experts on the church in America, and how were they able to sample a sufficient number of churches to make such all-inclusive remarks?  No one has ever visited our church to assess its health and I’ve never gotten a call asking me about how our youth or music ministry is going.

In truth, this feels more like an attempt to shape the narrative in our country in regard to the church.  Surely we’ve learned by now that one of the ploys of those opposed to a thing is to simply begin reporting on it’s demise and before long people believe it’s dead and actual death soon follows.  My personal experience today is that the truth is far from these reports.

I’ve got many pastor friends that are reporting great advancement of their churches.  Here at Abundant Life we are experiencing growth and advancement across the board and we are expecting more and more.  Walls that have kept people apart for generations are being torn down and in almost every area of ministry we are experiencing an abundance of life!  You can feel that what historically has been called revival is coming to the river bend and young and old alike are drawing closer and closer to God.  We’re coming off of one of our greatest financial years in the history of the church and we are touching not only our region but all over the world!

In short… Who’s report will you believe?  Those who would report the church’s demise are simply not telling the truth or any semblance of the truth.  God is growing his church and just as always… Nothing will prevail against it!

 

Blessings!

What Draws You Closer to God?

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What draws you closer to God? I was working on a few chores around my place this past weekend and as I was working, my mind was dwelling on a difficult situation from the past. I had heard a comment earlier that day that reminded me of a very difficult leadership situation that I had dealt with some years ago. It was a great season of learning and faith development and as usual for me, the catalyst for that growth had been fear. As my mind reflected back on this time it dawned on me how often it takes fear to move me closer to the Lord. Frankly, I want something better. How about you?

In 2 Timothy 1:7 we read

…“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (ESV)

Said more simply, the spirit that God gives us doesn’t make us afraid. Rather, this spirit convinces us of the power that we have in and through him, confirms and demonstrates his love for us, and enables us to control ourselves.   His Spirit does not reduce us in any way but rather builds us up.

God’s desire IS that we would be in close relationship with him, and I believe that he WILL allow fear to drive us into him, but that isn’t his best plan, just the one that we leave him with after we’ve been too busy for his kindness, gentleness, and the still small voice that invites us into his presence. It’s as we disassociate with the Holy Spirit’s voice and the Word that our merciful Father, who knows we are ill equipped to face this world without his presence, allows circumstances or thoughts to cause us fear and thereby moves us close to him once again.

Think about how full the churches were immediately following September 11, 2001. People were afraid and turned to God for solace and hope. Wouldn’t it be much better if through devotion and discipline we kept ourselves closely attuned with the Holy Spirit’s voice and in regular times of reverence and worship our faith grew and grew. That love and revelation would be the context of our growth rather than fear.

Today, I’m committed to the pursuit of His presence motivated not by fear, but by a genuine desire to know him more fully and to walk from sunrise to sunset with a profound sense of his presence.

Blessings!